Why do you “LIKE” a picture? What makes a picture a PORTRAIT? ………{Portrait Photographer in MD, VA, DC}

Is this thing on?  I have something to say again.  Get ready, world…here I go again.

Too often lately I find myself wondering what makes someone “LIKE” a picture on the popular social media sites?  And from other photographers?  Do you like a photo if you are in it?  Do you like a photo because it brings back a great memory?  Do you like a photo because it makes you feel good about yourself?  Or is there more to it? Do you like a photo that stands out?  Makes you look your very best?  What do you consider your very best?

Casual photos – candids – phone images – the popular “Instagrams” going around – I really do understand the desire for the instant image satisfaction.  The moment captured – non posed, it is what it is – many people call it “lifestyle photography”.  Today’s world gives us the opportunity to take a photo anywhere from tiny devices that fit in our pockets easily – and post it for the world to see instantly.  We have never been so well documented – this generation will be able to remember everything and that is wonderful, truly.  But are they GOOD images?  Are they GREAT images?  Or are we so used to the mediocre images that we get ALL THE TIME we are now settling for that same look in our portraits?  And do we now think portraits aren’t even necessary?  Are they the images you want from a photographer you are paying to take portraits?  Are they PORTRAITS at all?

I wonder if the instant image popularity has caused folks to undervalue what real portraiture is?  What it takes to make a true portrait – for your wall, or just something to last forever – be great?  And what defines “great”?  I have TONS of scrapbooks with thousands of candid images – and yes, I would want my family, my pets and my scrapbooks out of the house in a fire first.  But I know there is a difference between the images I put in a scrapbook and the image I put in a frame and hang on my wall.  Are we blending the images now?  Are all images “wall worthy” now?

I’m a very picky person with a photo – ask anyone in my family, LOL!  I look at images that are now being defined as “portraits” and wonder why isn’t it a candid snapshot?  Who said it was a portrait?  Or does it matter anymore?

I see images with hot spots from sun flares causing skin “blowouts” or color balance being so off skin tones look orange.  I see images where body parts that are not necessarily flattering are larger than they should be.  I see images where the pose of the subject doesn’t flatter them and their size.  And yes, I know images don’t have to be like that – most often it’s just a pose tweak or a camera angle and the whole thing could “shift” in the direction of better.  But that’s all before you even click the shutter.  Too many photographers do not study posing and it’s impacts regarding camera angles, etc.  But a pose tweak is so important – the little details DO matter.  Unless you really want to believe the camera “adds 10 lbs” – is it the camera, the photographer, the pose or are you really 10 lbs heavier than you care to admit????

And then I wonder at the images I see from other photographers – who advertise themselves as professionals  – did they just download that image or did they  “process” it at all?  I don’t think people spend the time to understand that the camera and the original photographer do a large part of the job, but just as film was developed years ago, digital images need to be PROCESSED to look their best.  With the world today and ALL the options, it takes a lot to learn how to process images to make them present really well  – tons of training to even know all your options when processing an image.  And limitless options with digital images can be intimidating, for sure.  But that doesn’t mean that we can just take the image out of our camera and put it out to the world.  And yes, it takes a large investment in the proper computer and software and training to know how to use it all.  Unless of course, you just put your camera on automatic and accept what it does to your image and then upload it without doing anything other than changing the filename.  I guess some people do think the camera does it all…from taking the photo to processing the photo.  (That used to be called an instamatic camera in the “old days”. )

Photography today is so much more than the ability to take images quickly – because if that was the case, we could all have an idevice and say we were professional photographers.  Certainly the “quality” that the little devices are capable of is pretty good.  But it does proves that a good camera alone does not take a great picture.  The person who pushes the button(s) needs to know a little something – before they push the button AND after.

But if you don’t see the difference, or value the possibilities…it doesn’t really matter at all I guess.  I do tend to ramble in the mornings…

And no, I didn’t answer my own question.  But I did come up with a lot more questions on the subject didn’t I?



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